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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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Tom Harris talks sense

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Monday, 10 May 2010 at 11:41 pm
Tonight's Newsnight was a collector's item. On live television we just witnessed the Lib-Lab coalition blown apart.

First we had Harriet Harman contradicting the version of the terms of the deal that had been briefed by the negotiating team during the afternoon. She warned against assuming that the Labour Party would offer the Alternative Vote without a referendum and referred to the Labour manifesto, which makes it conditional on the consent of the people in a referendum.

Then we had Tom Harris, the MP for Glasgow South, saying that if Gordon Brown tried to put a Bill that went beyond the manifesto to the House of Commons he "and many colleagues" would vote against it. For good measure, he said he would never sit in a coalition government with the Scottish National Party.

I do not blame Brown, Peter Mandelson or Andrew Adonis for trying. And it is strange to see the steeliest of New Labour people such as John Reid and Tom Harris arguing that it is better to be out of power than in. But I do not see a Lib-Lab deal working.

Comments

Vote Labour get Cameron?
hijiki7777 wrote:
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 at 06:47 am (UTC)
I wonder how sincere these Labour politicians are about their own beliefs when they appear not to care if a right of centre government gets in.
LibDem/Lab coalition blown apart?
liam_ohuigin wrote:
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 at 10:34 am (UTC)
But then again John you've been repeating your view that Clegg's statement that he would deal first with whichever party achieved more votes and seats was an error. It doesn't seem to have stopped him causing maximum panic among the Tories as of last night, does it? Labour may not be sufficiently united to prove satisfactory negotiating partners, but that's hardly Clegg's fault. And as far as Harris having blown a possible coalition agreement apart, I would suggest people look at your predictive success thus far: it's not terribly impressive. As ever, your politically posthumous loyalty to Blair dictates every judgment you make about anything involving Brown. It's no coincidence that arch-Blairites Blunkett and the "steely" Reid are mouthing the same sort of nonsense as you.
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